A. Pennington

Andrew, plump and young, perched on my sofa
In his unfashionable black overcoat
Plotted, guffawed, the keen young Councillor.
"I only hope I live to see the day
When we have made that wretched Grammar School
A comprehensive school for Hester's Way."

Who was Hester, once? I doubt if Andrew
Could have told you that. The peeling towers
Might have scared her, bare parks where needles blew.
He bounced along her ground. Scuffed overcoat
Flapped. He fought for buses, surgeries.
Neighbours brought forms, grief; tea. He earned each vote.

I grew busy. I did less. Andrew, I know,
Grew busier, did more. I saw his name
Blur on each pamphlet like a light through snow.
And how he beamed and how the May crowd roared
When his friend was named MP. One January
A man came walking with a foreign sword

A man who had lost job and house and mind.
Trapped in the small bare office where they worked
His friend, the tall MP, had a slashed hand.
Andrew ran out for help, rushed back inside.
Called from the windswept, ordinary street,
A stranger took him in his arms. He died.

My tall slim daughter, on the sofa still,
Stares wearily at me. "It can't be done;
They never will close down the Grammar School."
"Did Andrew ever start with 'can't'?" I say:
A small man, whom a town will not forget,
A man who always knew that we are they.

Alison Brackenbury

If you've any comments on this poem, Alison Brackenbury would be pleased to hear from you.

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